Friday, May 20, 2016

What is Opinion and What is Not? – Part VII

Continuing from the previous posts regarding what is actually “fact” and not just “opinion” when dealing with the Land of Promise location, in which the first question to be asked and answered is “What does the scriptural record actually say?” 
In the previous posts on this subject we have separated the scriptural record “facts” from the “opinions” regarding Nephi’s course to the Western Hemisphere to show the only place he could have landed, which was along the Chilean coast at 30º south latitude. Now let’s take a look at the “facts” instead of the “opinions” of what he found there.
    As was listed on the close of an earlier post in this series, there are seven points Nephi describes finding at, and relating to, the point of his landing as he states in 1 Nephi 18:24-25. First of all, on landing upon the “promised land,” Nephi says “we went forth upon the land and we did pitch our tents" (1 Nephi 18:23). Thus we see that they landed, left the ship and went ashore and pitched their tents. There should be nothing difficult about understanding this. Lehi and Sariah were of an age and health condition (1 Nephi 18:17-18) that they would not have been able to go far once landing. It should also be understood that you don’t “sail” up rivers in a deep ocean going vessel with a fixed sail that is being “driven forth before the wind.” Not even the experienced Vikings in their long boats sailed up rivers—they used their oars.
    This, in an of itself, should suggest to all eastern United States, Great Lakes, and Western New York theorists, that Nephi sailed across the sea and landed on the shore of the promised land—he did not say he sailed up inland rivers, crossed miles upon miles of land, in order to reach an inland lake in order to “pitch his tents.” We also need to keep in mind that this land of first inheritance, as Mormon placed it, was located “in the west, in the land of Nephi, in the place of their father’s first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:28). Again, this should preclude all the theories involving the eastern United States, Great Lakes, and Western New York—it doesn’t of course, for these theorists simply ignore this part of the scriptural record. But it should be noted that Mormon’s words “and thus bordering along by the seashore,” shows us how obvious this was to Mormon, since where they first landed had to be along the seashore.
    So what did Nephi say he found in this point of landing?
1. “We did begin to till the earth,” therefore it had to be a place where there was tillable ground along the coast that would produce sufficient food to feed the colony that first year, combined with hunting and fishing.
2. “We began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem.” Now one of the interesting things about this seemingly unimportant comment, ignored by all theorists, rests in two parts: a) obviously, no one had been planting in this area before, so they were planting in virgin land without any prior experience in this location, and b) the seeds they were putting into the ground had previously grown and been produced in Jerusalem.
    There are two very important things about this that to modern man, would probably not even be given a second thought. However, in the world of Lehi in 600 B.C. or so [probably about 590 B.C., given about eight years in the desert before reaching Bountiful and another two years building the ship], the idea of dirt, soils, soil groups, precipitation, temperature, overall climate, all played an extremely important role to whether or not seeds would grow.
This is seen some 2000 years later when the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth, coming from the northern climate of England and Holland, that their seeds did not grow well in New England—so much so, that they would have starved had it not been for the Indians of the area who not only helped feed them through the winter, but showed them how to plant a special way that ensured a successful crop the following Spring and Fall. The same basic thing took place in Jamestown Colony, which nearly starved some ten years earlier when winter set in supplies ran short and the Indians were hostile.
    Growing seeds in another climate from those in which they were first raised or developed is not an easy matter. Even today, some 2600 years after Lehi, seeds need to be planted in an area to which they have been developed, and almost all seed packets have a range of locations to which they are recommended for planting, even with our modern technology for planting, feeding and harvesting. 
Consider in 600 B.C. the importance of such matters that would determine the success or failure of a new colony. Both the Pilgrim and Jamestown colonies learned this simple lesson the hard way, that seeds brought from the northern latitudes of Europe would not just grow anywhere along the eastern coast of the United States. Now in the area of Chile, at Coquimbo Bay and La Serena, along the latitude of 30º south, a unique climate exists, and the only area in the entire Western Hemisphere where all of the above criteria matches that of Jerusalem, i.e., the soil, soil group, precipitation, temperature, and overall climate is the exact same—called a Mediterranean Climate. There are only two of these climates in all the Western Hemisphere, and only five in all the world: Chile, Southern California, southern tips of Australia, the southern tip of Africa, and the Mediterranean coastal Basin in Europe. Having grown up in Southern California the first 65 years of my life, where frankly anything grows all year round—you just stick it in the ground, give it a little water, and it grows profusely.
Top: Front yard of our home in Southern California in the Spring, with the trees just starting to get its leaves—all the plants grew from 1-gallon containers the year before; Bottom: Front yard in late October after tree has lost all its leaves (daughter raking up last of the leaves)
    I was shocked beyond belief when I moved to Cedar City and tried to plant things—only the hardiest plants grow there and in the winter hardly anything grows at all; I actually thought that first winter everything we had planted through the Spring and Fall had died! I was flabbergasted that most of the plants grew again the following Spring!
    The Mediterranean Climate of Southern California is a remarkable thing. In fact, from this Mediterranean Climate, much of the United States gets its winter fruit. And it certainly provided for Lehi what Nephi wrote: “they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance” (1 Nephi 18:24).
Elqui River flows from then Andes to its delta mouth at the Bay of Coquimbo, bringing cold, fresh water to El Serena
    Beyond the planting and harvesting, which would have been extremely important to a new colony, as well as finding fresh water, which is satisfied in this area by the Elqui River, which is a river of cold, pure water coming down off the snow-covered Andes and flowing through Las Serena to the Coquimbo Bay, Nephi mentions three other things in this immediate area.
5. “And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind…” (1 Nephi 18:25a). It is interesting that critic and member alike center their attention on this issue and see the cow and the horse, but do not stop to consider the more important comment and that is the comment “forests.”
    This means that in the close vicinity of Lehi’s landing site was a forest of considerable size (the size will be addressed shortly). Think of it. Not only is there a severe slackening of ocean current movement allowing a ship “driven forth before the wind” to disengage from the fast-moving current, but where there is almost no current at all so a ship with only fixed sails could maneuver (steer) out of the current and in toward shore. Secondly, at this exact location there just happens to be a very large bay, sufficiently long enough (long in the direction of travel, i.e., south to north) for an inexperienced crew to steer their ship toward shore and into the bay, but third, this bay just happens to be next to the coastal garden spot of the entire Chilean coast. The garden spot and only area anywhere alone the eastern Pacific coast from Baja California to the Drake Passage where seeds from Jerusalem would grow, especially grow exceedingly and provide an abundance.
    And right there, in that area where they were needed, was a large forest where numerous animals had gathered in their journey south from the narrow neck when the Lord drove them out of the Lamanite Land Northward with the poisonous serpents (snakes) so they would be available to the future Nephite nation, and especially their initial landing site where they would need them for plowing, planting, harvesting, and eventual packing and transporting Nephi’s camp northward.
    Isn’t it amazing how the Lord works his Plans.
(See the next post, “What is Opinion and What is Not? – Part VII,” for more regarding what is fact about the Land of Promise and the scriptural record by comparing the scriptural account with the location and separating “fact” from “opinion”)

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